Submissions contributing to change

Dementia Australia is actively involved in advocating for change, for better care, treatments and supports for the 413,106 Australians currently living with dementia, their carers and families. 

One way we achieve change is by ensuring the voices of those living with dementia are included in conversations about policy and legislative changes, which will affect them. 

As part of the ongoing aged care reforms, the Department of Health has developed a Single Aged Care Quality Framework (single quality framework) that will support an aged care system in which consumers drive quality.

The single quality framework will include:

  • A new set of quality standards that will apply to all aged care services
  • A new process to assess organisations’ performance against the new standards and;
  • Improvements to the information available to consumers to support them to make choices about their aged care.

The new quality framework will cover a broad range of services from entry-level basic home support services to end-of-life care and will have a far-reaching impact on all consumers who access aged care. 

The new standards are more consumer-focused, which is a positive development. And while greater consumer choice and flexible services is promised under the broad umbrella of aged care reform, Dementia Australia will continue to advocate for dementia specialist support across the broad range of aged care services because we believe it is an integral part of consumers being able to receive high-quality services.

For people with dementia and their families and carers, the objectives around consumer directed care are particularly important given the progressive nature of the condition, which requires responsive and individually tailored solutions from service providers that will evolve over time to remain aligned with the individual’s situation. It is important to emphasise that these goals will only be achieved for people with dementia if their specialised needs are recognised and supported.

Overall, Dementia Australia welcomes the approach towards a single set of standards for aged care services to replace the multiple current standards. The strong focus on consumer outcomes is encouraging, but consumer and carer involvement needs to extend beyond the development of the standards to their implementation.

The striking absence of references to cognitive decline or dementia across the draft standards is also noticeable, which is concerning given the number of older Australians with dementia is increasing and the core business of both residential and home-based aged care services increasingly includes providing care to people with dementia. As the prevalence of dementia increases in our community, it is critical that all considerations of quality in aged care, including standards and assessment, must be fully inclusive of issues relating to dementia.  

In responding to the single set of standards consultation paper, Dementia Australia makes the following broad recommendations:

  • Dementia Australia recommends that Standard 3 include a specific mention and reference to Dementia and Behavioural and Psychotic Symptoms of Dementia when discussing high impact and high prevalence risks across aged care service delivery.
  • Dementia Australia recommends that the quality standards should be continually monitored and strengthened to drive continuous improvement.
  • Measures of quality in the aged care system must seek to ensure access to appropriate, high-quality care for the most vulnerable consumers, including those with dementia and especially those with significant behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia. Dementia Australia recommends that the single quality framework be extended to cover all assessment services across aged care.

In responding to the streamlined assessment process, we are we are pleased to note that regardless of which quality assessment option is adopted, it is proposed that any new arrangement would be more inclusive of consumers and that there will be a greater focus on seeking the views of consumers about whether they experience safe, quality care and services that are consistent with their needs and preferences. We also applaud the intention to have better availability of information about the outcomes of the assessment to all consumers.

The regulatory and compliance framework that supports the implementation of the quality standards will play a crucial role in determining the effectiveness of the entire single quality framework. 

Dementia Australia urges the Department to consider and include issues relating to the safety and quality of care for people with dementia through these draft standards as well as the streamlined assessment process.  

For more information about this submission and others please visit the policy section of the website.